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Podcast: Tools

Episode 99: Uncovering Who I Was Meant To Be with Ann Garner Coulter

When you’re healthy, you can be more you and bring your special magic to the world.

Over twenty years ago, when today’s guest Ann Garner Coulter was diagnosed, we were in what Tami describes as the dark ages of fibromyalgia. There were no FDA-approved medications, and it was even more challenging to find a doctor who knew enough about the condition to help. As a result, Ann had very few resources to help her manage her fibromyalgia, and she struggled for a long time. While dealing with those symptoms, including pain consistently in the seven to nine range, Ann continued working full-time but eventually lost her job due to her health.

Around the same time, her young daughter received a ME/CFS diagnosis. Ann stepped in as an advocate for her and discovered a side of herself she never knew existed. That discovery led her to more extensive advocacy work and her decision to become a Certified Fibromyalgia Coach®. Ann has a remarkable recovery story, and she’s now taken her pain down to a two or three most days. She’s also returning to work and working her way off of disability.

In this conversation, Tami and Ann discuss Ann’s journey to her fibromyalgia diagnosis over 22 years ago, Ann’s symptoms in the lead up to her diagnosis, what it was like navigating her diagnosis in what Tami calls the dark ages of fibromyalgia, the treatments and therapies Ann tried before finding a doctor who was able to help her, why it’s often hard to find doctors with the proper knowledge and experience, being pregnant with fibromyalgia, dealing with fibromyalgia alongside postpartum depression, working full-time while struggling with fibromyalgia symptoms then losing a job because of her health, why Ann finally filed for disability, how learning to advocate for her daughter helped Ann advocate for herself, Ann’s decision to become a Certified Fibromyalgia Coach®, what made the most significant difference in turning down her pain, how being a coach and helping other people has helped Ann, the vital role of faith in Ann’s journey, peeling back the layers and finding who she really is, what’s next for Ann, her impactful advocacy work, Ann’s message for someone struggling with fibromyalgia, what to expect from a coaching call with Ann, recognizing that it takes time to heal, and more.

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Episode 98: How To Explain Fibromyalgia To Your Child with Melissa Swanson

Kids are curious, and they’ll ask anything and everything about what’s different about you.

Today Tami is sharing a fabulous resource that will help you explain fibromyalgia to the little ones in your life. After leaving an office job of twenty years, Melissa started a new career working with young children. While working with little kids, they inevitably noticed the signs of her pain and would keep asking all these different questions. Recognizing that this wasn’t a unique situation, Melissa was inspired to create something that could help people better explain what they’re going through in a way that kids can understand. From there, her book, Ravyn’s Doll, was born.

In this episode, Melissa and Tami talk about the process from idea to publication of Melissa’s book, Ravyn’s Doll, the story that’s told in the book, the significant impact Melissa saw in her school district, which age group will get the most from reading Ravyn’s Doll, how the book has helped children and family members connect with their loved ones who are struggling with fibromyalgia, ways to introduce the book to kids at different ages, diving deeper into invisible illnesses and symptoms with older kids, supporting resources to help you get started with these discussions, paper doll lessons for younger kids, why it was important to Melissa to create the Spanish edition of Ravyn’s Doll, how you can purchase copies of Ravyn’s Doll, and more.

Ravyn’s Doll has been a fantastic tool for many people in helping their loved ones better understand them. Both Tami and Melissa have heard many stories from friends and clients about the huge difference this book has made. We hope that you will share these resources with the people in your life who have little ones, whether that’s your relatives, your students, or your pediatrician’s office; it’s essential to get these out into the world.

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Episode 96: Fibromyalgia Sleep

People with fibromyalgia are significantly more likely to experience a sleep disorder. On top of that, some particular issues tend to happen when it comes to sleep and fibromyalgia.

Last week Tami and her friend, sleep expert Sovann Pen, talked about the importance of sleep for your healing journey and how you can get better sleep. In today’s special episode, Tami dives deeper into the specifics of fibro sleep, from research studies to books, supplement recommendations, and more.

In this episode, Tami talks about what research shows about the connection between poor sleep and pain, why not getting good sleep can make you feel more hungry and less satisfied after eating, the three ways sleep is different in people with fibromyalgia, different ways fibromyalgia impacts sleep, diagnosing fibromyalgia looking at the alpha brain wave/delta brain wave ratio, the 45% higher incidence of sleep disorders with fibromyalgia, why getting a sleep study done is probably a good idea, medications and supplements that can help you to get more and better sleep, causes and treatment of restless leg syndrome or periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD), sleep is essential for healing, things that can help you to fall asleep, lowering the overactive fight or flight response, increasing the amount of deep sleep you’re getting, practices you can try to lower your stress response before bed, and more.

The information Tami shares in this episode is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re interested in learning more, consider joining us for our next class of the Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor® training program, where she goes much deeper into sleep and many other topics specific to fibromyalgia.

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Episode 95: Sleep Better with Sovann Pen

Unrefreshing sleep is one of the hallmarks of fibromyalgia, and it’s hard to face the day when you wake up feeling depleted.

With Fibromyalgia, we find three significant sleep issues that we must address: struggle with getting to sleep, problems with staying asleep, and calming the overactive fight or flight so we can get restful sleep.

Sleep is essential for having the mental and emotional energy to do the things we need to do to feel better, and Tami believes that her fibromyalgia would not be in remission without tackling her sleep issues. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution; everyone has to find the right recipe for their sleep. Today’s guest, Sovann Pen, joins Tami to talk about why sleep is vital to our overall health and how you can get better sleep.

In this conversation, Sovann and Tami discuss Sovann’s 25-year sleep career, how different people are affected by poor sleep quality, thinking about how your life could be better with better sleep, don’t assume your symptoms are solely due to fibromyalgia, how not getting enough sleep leaves us vulnerable to burnout, the high correlation between fibromyalgia and sleep apnea, the four stages of sleep, why people with fibromyalgia often struggle with getting restful sleep, Tami’s experience with sleep studies, what a sleep study entails, the three main sleep issues people with fibromyalgia experience, why you need to start sleep hygiene as soon as you wake up, when to consider meeting with a sleep specialist, the right place for sleep aids and medication for sleeping, when to take melatonin, figuring out what’s waking you up in the night, negative sleep thoughts, social media has a negative effect on many people’s sleep, digging deeper into the symptoms to address the core problem, how you can use the Wellness Wheel, Sovann’s tips for making friends with your CPAP machine, the need to slow down and take care of yourself, and more.

Be sure to tune in to next week’s special bonus episode, where Tami will share fibro-specific sleep information, including studies, supplements, and topics she teaches in her Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor™ class.

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Episode 94: Grief and Fibromyalgia with Pat Sheveland

As an eternal optimist, Tami likes to keep this podcast positive, often focusing on ways you can feel better with fibromyalgia. But you can’t talk about fibromyalgia without exploring the darker side of things, like the grief many of us experience.

Grief affects all of us physically, emotionally, and energetically. Fibromyalgia can often seem like an endless taking away of things, from living in a body that doesn’t function the way it used to, to the loss of our jobs, family, or friends who don’t understand. It’s natural to experience grief over the way life used to be.

Today Tami is happy to share a conversation she’s been looking forward to for months: her interview with grief coach Pat Sheveland, where they explore the intersection of grief and fibromyalgia. In this episode, Tami and Pat talk about how grief often shows up for those of us with fibromyalgia, Pat’s journey to grief coaching, the experience of writing four books, how grief affects us physically, the science of the grieving brain, why our fibromyalgia symptoms are amplified by grief, defining grief, the many different ways grief and loss show up in our lives, the grief of losing your life before fibromyalgia, the fallout that happens in various aspects of our lives when we have fibromyalgia, how to distinguish between sadness and grief, finding a safe space to talk about your grief, there is no timeline for grief, learning to coexist with grief, Pat’s recommendations for supporting yourself through grief, getting rid of the stigma of seeking help with managing grief, the benefits of working with a trained grief professional instead of relying on family or friends only, next steps for you if you’re ready for support with your grief, Pat’s beautiful message to you, and more.

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Episode 93: Chronic Illness At Work with Julie Hamilton

If you’re struggling right now with working with fibromyalgia or other chronic illnesses, there is hope.

Whether you’re an employer or an employee, today’s interview will be fabulous for you. Tami is thrilled to share this interview with Certified Fibromyalgia Coach® Julie Hamilton about her new book, Chronic Illness at Work. One of the most important things about this book is that it not only helps those of us with chronic illnesses but shows companies that it’s in their best interest to support their employees.

In this episode, Tami and Julie talk about Julie’s fibromyalgia diagnosis, becoming a Certified Fibromyalgia Coach®, the inspiration behind Chronic Illness at Work, how supporting good employees benefits everyone involved, Julie’s favorite parts of writing her book, what it’s like writing a book with fibromyalgia, the deep emotions that came up when the book was published, how Chronic Illness at Work helps HR professionals and employers to support staff with chronic illnesses, why people working with chronic illnesses can also benefit from Chronic Illness at Work, the importance of ergonomics, exploring options for job accommodations, key facts on the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Job Accommodations Network, how Julie works with employees and employers, Julie’s passion for helping other people with chronic illnesses, how you can get a free copy of Chronic Illness at Work, success stories from Julie’s clients, benefits of working with a Certified Fibromyalgia Coach®, and more.

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Episode 92: Addiction, Dependency, and Withdrawal with Dr. Chelsea Liebowitz

In today’s episode, Tami is excited to be joined by Doctor of Pharmacy Chelsea Liebowitz, who’s here to clear up all these questions and more. As a pain patient herself, Chelsea spent years seeking answers for her chronic pain, and she knows your pharmacist’s vital role as part of your healthcare team.

In their conversation, Chelsea and Tami talk about what it was like growing up with chronic pain and the medical gaslighting Chelsea experienced, how frustration with a lack of answers led Chelsea on a journey to figure it out herself, the discovery that copper toxicity was behind a lot of her symptoms, it requires determination and grit for people with chronic illnesses to get answers, Chelsea’s training in pharmacy, how pharmacists help patients, why you should build a relationship with a small independent pharmacy, the difference between addiction and physical dependence, most medication is not curative – it helps you manage your symptoms, viewing medicine as a tool to help you accomplish what you want, Chelsea’s tips for tapering off of your medications, how to know when it’s time to taper off your medicines, how coaches can help you to heal medical trauma, removing the stigma of withdrawal, distinguishing between temporary withdrawal symptoms and still needing your medication, empowering yourself around potential side effects, Chelsea’s experience with medical PTSD, things doctors say and what they really mean, and more.

Note: This episode is not meant to be medical advice. Every person and every situation is unique. The information you learn in this episode should be shared and discussed with your own healthcare providers.

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Episode 91: Conditions Related to Fibromyalgia

Many of the symptoms people blame on fibromyalgia are actually due to coexisting conditions.

Too many people go too long with the wrong diagnosis, taking inappropriate medications, and following unnecessary protocols because their provider didn’t identify the correct cause.

This topic came up a lot in the last cohort of Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor® training. As we went through the program, the students had many lightbulb moments and realized much more was happening than just fibromyalgia.

By getting to know fibromyalgia deeply, it becomes a lot easier to spot when those symptoms are from something else.

After living with fibromyalgia since 2007 and being a coach for over ten years, Tami often picks up clues in client conversations that indicate something else is going on. Today, she’s sharing a brief overview of some of the most common conditions that tend to get overlooked after someone has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

In this episode, Tami talks about how she spots the clues that something else is at play, the problem with the lack of training about fibromyalgia in medical school, symptoms of other conditions often get blamed on fibromyalgia, why it’s critical to identify and address the root cause of your symptoms correctly, clues she typically sees that suggest Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS), respiratory issues, Sjogren’s syndrome, sleep apnea, thyroid conditions, lupus, mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, neuropathy, and other common conditions we see alongside fibromyalgia, why testing TSH alone isn’t enough to assess your thyroid function, what you need to know about chronic fatigue syndrome/ME and fibromyalgia, viruses and bacterial infections that have similar symptoms to fibromyalgia, and more.

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Episode 87: What If It Isn’t Fibromyalgia?

Don’t blame everything on your fibromyalgia.

Your pain, fatigue, sleep issues, and brain fog might not be from your fibromyalgia. We need to dig deeper.

Tami encountered this topic a lot in the last few months of the Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor® training program. We’re not saying you don’t have fibromyalgia – what we mean is, sometimes symptoms can be caused by something else in addition to or instead of fibromyalgia.

Why does it matter? Assuming that fibromyalgia is the blanket reason behind every symptom, you might be missing out on opportunities for healing. By finding the true source of your symptoms, you’ll be able to get the right treatment to help you.

In this episode, Tami is talking about the common areas outside of fibromyalgia that might be causing similar symptoms. She shares why you should learn to read your labs, what it might mean if none of the typical medications are helping, common symptoms of mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), the huge difference a CPAP machine made for her, why Tami believes myalgic encephalomyelitis, also called chronic fatigue syndrome or ME/CFS, is separate from fibromyalgia, the importance of testing for chronic infections, why advocating for yourself is essential, how a Certified Fibromyalgia Coach® can help you on your fibro journey, and more.

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Episode 85: Is This Self-Sabotage?

To get better, we have to change.

Maybe you’re trying to make healthier food choices or exercise more. Maybe you’ve realized you need to be firmer with your boundaries in certain relationships. Whichever area of your life it might be, the closer you get to the edge of your comfort zone, the more uncomfortable it’s likely to be.

That’s where self-sabotage or Upper Limiting comes into play. The concept of Upper Limiting was made famous by Gay Hendricks in his book, The Big Leap, which Tami highly recommends. It speaks to the idea that as we reach the limits of our comfort zone, we start to do things to bring ourselves back.

Tami has experienced this and seen it a lot with fibromyalgia clients. In this episode, she’s sharing why we self-sabotage, how to figure out how you might be sabotaging yourself, digging deep into why you want to improve your fibromyalgia, strategies for developing a step-by-step plan that leads you out of your comfort zone, what it might look like when you’re sabotaging your fibro journey, the benefits of having help through this process, the importance of starting with self-reflection, how to find the support you want and need, and more.

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